justices accepted Captain Henry Smith's offer to finish the courthouse and their agreement
was duly recorded in the records of the county:
At a County Court by ajournment held the 28th day of November Annoque Dom.
1683 before His Lorps. Justices thereunto assigned and Authorized
Whereas Capt". Henry Smith made a proposall to ffinish the Cort: house for and in
consideration of Twelve Thousand pounds of tobacco to be paid this present year out
of the County Leavy & five hundred pounds of tobacco for the fine of Elizabeth Doring-
ton due to be paid by John Walter as security to be performed in Work of his Trade
Captn. John Winder Security to see the same performed This Cort: taking the premises
into their Consideration Doe ordr, that there be paid this present year out of the
County Leavy to Capt". Henry Smith on his order Twelve Thousand pounds of tobacco
and also That John Walter as security for Elizabeth Dorington pay unto the said
Captn. Henry Smith five hundred pounds of Tobacco. The said Captn. Henry Smith to
ffinish or cause to be finished the Court house well plankt above and also below with
good and substantial! sleepers in both the lower roomes and the upper roome to be
divided into Two the outermost Doore of the house with hinges locks and keys staires
Glass Windowes Carpinters Joyners & Turners work Barr seats for Justices & pinacles
Tables & all other necessities to the Compleating of the said Cort, house/
This same Day Commissioners as afore Whereas Captn. Henry Smith made a Pro-
posall to this Court to build or Cause to be built & finished an sufficient dwelling house
Twenty foot long & Sixteen foot wide with an Inside Chimney and alsoe one Stable
thirty foote long Twelve foote & ahalfe wide with rail & Mannger for and in Con-
sideration of the several! fines for Spinning of Wooll into good yarne; It is ordered
that the severall persons Concerned for the payment of such fines pay the same unto
Capt". Henry Smith on his order in Tobacco: And that the said Capt". Henry Smith
Cause the said House to be built accordingly on the County Land where the Court
house now is.3
The site of this courthouse, finished by Captain Henry Smith, has been positively located on
the south side of Manokin River on a part of a tract of land called "Webley" whose bounds
It is not possible to determine now whether Smith's work was unsatisfactory or whether
the justices changed their minds later about how they wanted the courthouse. In any case, on
November 14, 1688, the justices made an agreement with William Venables
to cover the court house and to remove the stairs that now are and to make a staircase
in the next corner and to remove the partition further in and to make a table for the
justices as also to make a seat for the justices with agreeable chairs in the middle
and a panell overhead, the said chairs with my Lord's coat of arms to be carved in
the same and a barr with a table and seat for the clerk and the same and every part
thereof to be made well according to plat.
Venables was to furnish the materials and he was to receive 5,500 pounds of tobacco.5 The
plat, were it now in existence, would have inestimable value as a historical document.
But this courthouse which was so long in building was destined to have an extremely short
life. We do not know why, but on March 1, 1694, it was ordered by the justices of the county
that Mr. Francis Jenkins and Capt. William Whittington purchase a tract of land,
..... near Dividing Creek, and that they erect or build a court house thereon, viz: fifty
feet long and twenty feet wide, the gable ends of brick with a chimney below and
above, to be underpinned with bricks and to be solely left to the care and management
of said Jenkins and Whittington, which charge to be defrayed by the County aforesaid.6
However, the attempt to abandon the old courthouse met with strong resistance. By July of
that year this conflict had been brought to the attention of the Council which ordered that
because the new site was not convenient for the majority of the inhabitants
the person or persons managing the said work wholly desist from carrying on the
aforementioned building for any such use. And further ordered that the sheriff of the
3 Deeds, Liber L, O-7, front of page 14, Ms.
4 Torrence, op. cit., pp. 408-09.
5 Ibid., p. 409.
6 Fillmore Lankford, op. cit.